Though some thought PS2 Killzone a disappointment, there were a few things it got spectacularly right. The sci-fi plot in which embittered colonists of the wasteland planet Helghast unleash blitzkrieg upon unsuspecting humanity was an absolute winner, as were the accompanying urban-hell atmospherics and the striking FutureNazi design of the Helghast themselves. Happily, Liberation picks up the story where the original left off - the fascist off-worlders having been defeated but not eradicated, and with Jan Templar ready to lead the liberation charge - which means all of the bits that really worked on PS2 are making a return on PSP.
Better yet, the parts that didn't work - namely the workmanlike first-person mechanics - have been ditched, replaced by a brilliantly PSP-friendly scrolling 3D set-up. The cold, hard FPS-precision makes way for a less realistic Metal Slug-style approach, with slow-moving bullets that you can track across the screen and even dodge with some nimble thumbsmanship.
A DESIGN FOR LIFE
Complementing this new style of play is the level design. Levels have now been built to provide an engaging on-rails path through the game, with plenty of variety and room for tactical manoeuvrability. Liberation's ace card is that it combines a simple pick-up-and-blast premise with some challenging tactical situations, and the obstacle-strewn environments - packed with cargo crates and barricades, trip wires and mines - help make this possible.
Consequently, every fight against the Helghast goons becomes a pitched strategic standoff. Typically you'll head in close and find cover behind a wall or barrier, ducking down by pressing u. Chances are they'll spot you and, with their reasonably accurate fire, you'll have to wait for them to reload before popping up and chucking a grenade with e or firing off a burst from your rifle. If that doesn't finish them off you can try outflanking them - several missions have Rico (from the PS2 FPS) fighting alongside you, and you can give him orders by tapping up on the D-pad. This will give you lot of alternatives for where to position your extra man - you can send him one side of your enemy while you sneak to the other. It's a compact, easy-to-use interface.
It's not just the combat which requires some tactical thinking, either, but your resource management. There's a sensible system, with inventory boxes placed around each level where you can replenish medical supplies and ammunition, as well as switch weapons and store excess equipment. At the start of the game you can only carry one weapon and two explosive devices at any one time, so stashing gear for later and tracking back through the level to retrieve it becomes a standard part of the gameplay.
Aside from standard weapons, occasionally your mission will require you to take control of something a little larger - as well as gun emplacements dotted around the game you can also drive vehicles, for instance tanks and hovercraft. These are great fun, with boosted firepower and smooth handling meaning you can rip a level apart in record time.
When you consider the hype that surrounded Killzone on PS2, Liberation has been low-profile in comparison - a shame, because it's far more deserving of praise than it's predecessor. A practical redesign has done wonders with the already strong story source material, and turned this into a massively enjoyable and challenging third-person blaster.
Killzone PSP has Helghast attack dogs, which come with their very own orange goggles. Awww, cute.
- A tactical third-person shooting
- Great level design